* 26 British Conservative MEPsI suppose there will be comment about the fact that the Polish Law & Justice party is involved, as one or two of their members have said some pretty objectionable things about homosexuality. But then there is the odd member of the Cornerstone Group who holds some strange views on that subject too. The good thing is that Law & Justice do seem to be liberalising their stance somewhat. Their lead MEP, Adam Bielan, recently responded to criticism for Denis MacShane on this point in a letter which he wrote to the Guardian.
* 15 Polish MEPs from the Law and Justice Party
* 9 Czech MEPs from the Civic Democratic Party
* 1 MEP from Belgium's Lijst Dedecker - Derk Jan Eppink, a Dutchman who is a former senior European Commission official
* 1 MEP from Finland's Centre Party, Keskusta - Hannu Takkula (who has left the Liberal Group where the rest of his party sits)
* 1 MEP from the Hungarian Democratic Forum - Lajos Bokros, a former finance minister
* 1 MEP from the Latvian National Independence Movement - Roberts Zile, a former finance and transport minister
* 1 MEP from the Dutch Christian Union - Peter van Dalen
Denis MacShane makes an unfair allegation against my party, Law and Justice, calling us "gay-haters". We are fully committed to human rights and equality under the law, and object to all forms of discrimination, whether on grounds of race, sex or sexual orientation. We are the second-largest party in the Polish Sejm, and hold the presidency of the republic. To make such claims, simply because we believe in a Europe of nations and share David Cameron's opposition to Euro-federalism, is pretty low.
Adam Bielan MEP (7 May 2009)
Before Labour throws too many stones on this perhaps they ought to look at their own PES Group in the European Parliament. The majority of the Democratic Left Alliance MEPs (Labour’s Polish sister party, allies in the Party of European Socialists (PES) in the European Parliament) were Communist Party members in the 1980s. The Czech Social Democrat MEPs also include a number of people who were active Communists in the 1980s. Mr Bogdan Golik of Samoobrona is a member of the PES. Samoobrona are a populist nationalist left wing party led by the former farmer Andrzej Lepper. Andrzej Lepper rose to prominence by populist grand-standing. He once accused the liberal conservative Civic Platform of having met members of the Taliban in a small Polish village to sell them anthrax. He is said to have worked with the anti-Semitic publisher Leszek Bubel (Stephen Roth Centre). At one point Jean Marie le Pen was his role model (ibid.). He has even, in a qualified way, praised Hitler. He said he ‘At the beginning of his activities, Hitler had a really good programme. He put Germany on its feet and eliminated unemployment … I don’t know what happened to him later ... who had such influence over him that he moved toward genocide’ (Zycie Warszawy, quoted in the Financial Times, 15 April 2004).
And before the LibDems say too much, consider some of the people who they sit with. They sit in the same group in the European Parliament as Latvia’s First Party/Latvian Way. They have demonstrated against gay pride parades in Riga, attempted to ban discussion of gay issues in the media (Agence France Presse, 7 September 2006) and have used exceptionally violent language against homosexuality - one of their leading figures, Janis Smits, whom they succeeded in appointing as Latvia’s human rights commissioner, described homosexuality as a ‘plague’ (Guardian, G2, 1 June 2007). They were re-elected to the European Parliament in 2009. The LibDems are also allied to extreme feminists: In the last European Parliament the Liberal Democrats sat in the same group as the Swedish Feminist Initiative, who believe that marriage is a form of male oppression and so should be banned and that there should be a special tax on men to recompense women for the violence men exclusively inflict on society.
Nice, eh? I only point this out to underline that all groupings in the Eurpopean Parliament contain one or two pretty strange characters. But the platform to which all 55 MEPs in this new group have signed up is straight down the lines mainstream conservatism...
1. Free enterprise, free and fair trade and competition, minimal regulation, lower taxation, and small government as the ultimate catalysts for individual freedom and personal and national prosperity.
2. Freedom of the individual, more personal responsibility and greater democratic accountability.
3. Sustainable, clean energy supply with an emphasis on energy security.
4. The importance of the family as the bedrock of society.
5. The sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition to EU federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity.
6. The overriding value of the transatlantic security relationship in a revitalised NATO, and support for young democracies across Europe.
7. Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum procedures.
8. Efficient and modern public services and sensitivity to the needs of both rural and urban communities.
9. An end to waste and excessive bureaucracy and a commitment to greater transparency and probity in the EU institutions and use of EU funds.
10. Respect and equitable treatment for all EU countries, new and old, large and small.
So that's that then.